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Thread: Losses/incidents La Spezia raid 13-14 April 1943

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    Default Losses/incidents La Spezia raid 13-14 April 1943

    Dear all,

    I'm currently trying to get more info on the four Lancaster losses sustained on the 13-14 April 1943 La Spezia raid. It appears that 12 Sqn ED714 and 103 Sqn W4828 were lost on the return flight in a collision over Saint-Mars-d'Outillé. 61 Sqn ED717 ditched off the Scilly Isles on its return -does anyone have any info as to the cause of this loss, was it earlier involved in a NF attack? A 4th Lancaster, 103 Sqn W4318, was reportedly hit by flak and forced to ditch in the Channel -is there any more info available on where/when the a/c was hit by flak? Finally, a Lancaster was raked from below and astern by tracer from a twin-engined fighter at an unspecified point over Northern France at 05.50 hrs. When the Nachtjäger came in for a further attack a few seconds later, the Lancaster dived steeply and evaded its assailant. Who can give me the serial/Sqn of this Lancaster?

    Looking forward to any info on this matter,

    Cheers, Theo

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    Theo,
    Have emailed the ORB page for 61sqdn loss.
    Alan.

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    I will be happy to be in touch with you.

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    Default La spezia

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacky EMERY View Post
    I will be happy to be in touch with you.
    There is an entry in my husbands log book which may be of interest.Also a couple of entries in the diary concerning Spezia. It's a bit scribbled and cramped so I will have to guess a couple of words.
    12th April 1943
    Up at 9.30 and down to flights. Did NFT and taking off at 11am. Sat in mess till 3 pm and dashed up to flight to give
    Commission application to Adjutant. had tea then went to briefing 5.30. Target Spezia in Italy.Large number of warships supposed to be in dock there.Eventually scrubbed due to state of weather at base on return. To bomb from 8.000 ft with 4x 1000 bombs 5.3.c???? From deck area. Evening in mess. Bed 11pm.

    Up at 9.15. Down to flights in morning and did NFT. Hung about mess in afternoon until Flight Commander called me to ground test "O" and he was rather mad because I wasn't up at Flight. Briefing 6.15. target once again Spezia. Took off 8.30pm .First trip to Italy- easy but finding length???. Saw nothing on way there and back. Alps a beautiful sight. OPP???? Over target slight. Bombed from 9000 ft. Landed 7am . Bed 9 am. Log book entry 10.15 in red.

    There was another trip to Spezia on the 18th but that only took 9.15 hrs

    Regards
    Magda

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    Magda,
    Who was your husband, and which squadron was he with at this a time
    Alan

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    Default Spezia

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanW View Post
    Magda,
    Who was your husband, and which squadron was he with at this a time
    Alan

    Hi Alan,
    My husbands name was. L H Tolchard and he was with 49 Squadron at that time. He and his crew moved about July 1943 to 83 Squadron.

    Regards,
    Magda

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magda View Post
    Hi Alan,
    My husbands name was. L H Tolchard and he was with 49 Squadron at that time. He and his crew moved about July 1943 to 83 Squadron.

    Regards,
    Magda
    Spezia.
    Log book entry 18.04.1943
    Self and crew.OPS Spezia. 9.15 hrs.

    Personal note.ED 721

    Up at 7.15.Down to flights in morning but nothing doing. Up again afternoon and NFT . On T??? As M was on 50 hours inspection. Briefing 5.45 .Spezia target once more. Took off 9 pm. .Dropped mines in harbour and landed back 6.15am No cloud at all over Alps. Navigation during whole trip was bang on .Weather ropey on return and cloud down to 1500 , but Gee brought us back right over Drome. Bed 8 a.m.
    Regards
    Magda

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    My father flew on this op with 97 Squadron.

    14th April 1943 LA SPEZIA (ITALY)

    Take off time from Woodhall Spa 2039. Lancaster ED 425 E. Crew: F/O Fletcher. Sgt. Mason (2nd Pilot), F/Sgt. Robertson, S/Lt. Lett (Fleet Air Arm,) F/Sgt. Layne, Sgt. White, P/O Bale.

    97 Squadron supplied 11 Lancasters who’s primary objective was to bomb battleships in the Naval facility at La Spezia with 1 x 1,000 lb. bomb and 6 x S.B.C.’s. This target was considered to be at maximum range for a Lancaster bomber so a reduced bomb load to that normally carried was loaded onto the aircraft along with extra fuel for the long trip to Italy.

    On this operation the crew took with them Sgt. Mason as a second pilot (second dickie in R.A.F. slang.) Mason was a new pilot who was being shown the ropes on this his first operational flight. Also on this trip was Sub Lieutenant Lett of the Royal Navy, presumably to report his findings of an attack against an Italian Naval base to the Admiralty.

    The crew believed that they attacked the primary target of the docks at La Spezia. The weather was clear but the ground was obscured by smoke and haze. The crew made a timed run from Palmaira Island but even the eastern shore line was obscured by smoke. The bombs were dropped on fires and E.T.A. from Palmaira with bursts seen through the smoke. Returning to base after 10.15 hours of flight time. Bomber Command sent 208 Lancasters and 3 Halifaxes over the Alps to attack the Italian port of La Spezia, operating against the docks at La Spezia heavy damage was reported and the raid was deemed a success.

    In his book “Achieve Your Aim” Kevin Bending writes the following about the crew on this raid. “ For Flying Office Fletcher and his crew, there was some concern whether or not there would be sufficient fuel to get home. On the outward trip, the flight engineer, Sergeant Nelson, mistakenly pumped fuel from the outer tanks into the already full inner tanks. The error came to light when Sergeant White in the mid upper turret, noticed a stream of fuel from the overflow in the wings, but by this time, about two hundred gallons of fuel had been lost. Some banter began amongst the crew, drawing up the roster for paddling the dingy when they ditched in the Bay of Biscay or the Channel but, fortunately it did not come to that owing to Sergeant Nelson redeeming himself with some skillful management of the fuel consumption. When the weary crew landed back at Woodhall Spa, after debriefing and a breakfast of bacon and eggs, they were each given a railway warrant and told to take some leave before reporting back to R.A.F. Bourne: this was straight after a 10 1/4 hour trip.”
    Researching my father's time with 50 Squadron, 97 Squadron, Dulug Luft, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357 and Stalag Luft III.

    http://wallyswar.wordpress.com/

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    Hi Theo.

    sorry this has nothing to do with this subject. I'm looking into my Uncle's war time activities and have had some help from members on this site. I have just finished translating a doc found on the net " Stichting Wings to Victory " crash No 286. I had already started an inquiry on this site about a couple of Lancasters my uncle flew on as navigator. I went to check on my inquiry when I spotted your name, the same name appearing on that doc!!! I now see you are an author of many books. My uncle Sgt Peter Edward Bevis was shot down in Lancaster EE125 ZN-S off the coast of Holland. Your script stated that it might have been my uncle's Lancaster lost near Zealand Holland. Can you tell me any more?

    Regards

    Pete Bevis

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    Dear all,

    Thanks for all the interesting additions to the events on 13-14.4.43, over the past few years I've been able to solve most of the issues concerning this night, which I've edited into the manuscript of the NJWD 2nd edition.

    And Pete; please contact me by PM and we'll discuss the loss of your uncle's a/c, OK?

    Cheers, Theo

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